Cyprus Parliament passes legislation allowing phone surveillance

31 Jan 2020
On Friday, 24/01/2020, the Parliament after years of demand by authorities, passed a bill granting them the right to phone surveillance as a means to support the fight against serious crime and counter-terrorism. The bill was approved by a majority of 27 votes in favour, 3 against and 19 abstentions.

Safeguards have been put in place in order to ensure that the new legislation will not be used in an abusive manner by authorities and will be only used when necessary. 

Specifically, the lifting of privacy of telecommunications data will only be possible after a specific court order has been issued. For the obtainment of such order, a detailed police report must be prepared explaining the crime to be prevented, the name the person whose communications will be under surveillance and the duration of any such surveillance. The Court request will be made by the Attorney General on the basis of this report and only specific members of the police or the intelligence service will be able to carry out the surveillance and for a limited amount of time.

This bill will undoubtedly be a significant contribution to the police and intelligence services efforts and will ensure that surveillance occurs under a strict framework. It is noteworthy that the new legislation includes serious penalties for any member of the police or the intelligence service who violates the terms of a court order, such as 10 years imprisonment and/or €10,000 fine.

The Minister of Justice informed the public that the new bill may be referred to the Parliament to review some practical issues that have arisen from 2 last-minute oral amendments that occurred on Friday.

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